a new notebook

This coming spring, it will be ten years since I opened my first online journal. I’d need all my fingers and nearly all my toes were I to try to count the number of different blogs I’ve had since that first. Perhaps I should be embarrassed by this constant changing, this lack of consistency. But when I think about it properly, each new journal has coincided with a (big) change in my life: from fresher, to year abroad student, to final year student, to recently arrived foreigner, to fledgling freelancer, to aspiring spinner, to new mama. This past decade, these different notebooks, often public but sometimes private have been instrumental in helping me navigate my way through these different seasons of my life. A place to both make sense of the changes and to find my voice through the upheaval.

And now here I am, once again in a place of transition. We’ve recently moved both house & region, and our boy is on the verge of childhood rather than babyhood.

All of a sudden I feel the need to tidy the most recent notebooks into a tidy pile and start anew. With crisp pages, an uncrinkled spine. And a new name.

Because after a difficult year and months of foggy silence, all of a sudden I’m feeling surprisingly refreshed. And, much to my great surprise and relief, the words seem to have returned…but elsewhere. So from now on, Woollen Hearted is the name under which I’ll be both making & writing…

I’ll keep the pages of this journal open for now, but in time I’ll tidy this little journal away onto a shelf…for me to come back and look at from time to time.

Thank you so much for following along with me here up until now. I’d be delighted if you were to come and join me over in my new abode…

Warmly, Fran

knitting

Knitting

Somewhere between my fourth and fifth birthdays, I held a pair of knitting needles in my hands for the very first time. Guided by my grandma, I completed my first project a scarf for my bear. From that first cast on to the tiniest pair of socks knitted with the greatest joy for my baby boy, there have been so many projects over the years. Knitting has been both a functional and therapeutic part of my life. I love knitting hats and socks in the round, the simplicity of garter stitch, the complexity of lace and the warm cosiness of cables. Traditional colour work is a fairly new additions to my repertoire of skills. And having just finished knitting my second proper garment for myself since that first (and only) disastrous (and costly!) attempt at a sweater as a teen, I’m now enjoying the prospect of making my own hand knit wardrobe.

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I’m curious, how long have you been a knitter, and who or what led you to that first encounter with needles & yarn? Also, what was the first thing you ever cast off….and your most recent finished object? Let me know in the comments below!

a new home in the hills

Washing line

It’s been many months since I last came by here. Much has happened in our little family life since then. My days pass by so quickly with my little man underfoot. But there have also been a great many challenges sweeping through, which have at times felt like a tidal wave, leaving us tired and wrung out in it’s wake. But there has also been love, hope, trust and wool to see us through. 2017 was also a year of transition, including an unexpected move at the end of summer. For the time being, life has brought us from our valley in the Pyrenees, north & westward to Brittany.

Our new home is nestled in the green hills of central Finistère, at the furthest end of Brittany. It’s a place where the wind & rain are frequent and the wildlife abundant both inside & outside: we fall asleep to the hooting of the local tawny owl each night and regulary awake to find the evidence of the nocturnal adventures of the resident mice in the pantry the following morning.

With most of the boxes unpacked and a gentle new rhythm unfolding, we have finally exhaled. As our thoughts turn to the start of this new year, we find ourselves outside as much as possible, slowly settling into our garden as well as exploring our new land base. For the next few months, this little tumble down cottage will be our home. Our motivation to come here was simple: we are here to recover from a hard last year and to be closer to our respective families. Our intention for the coming months is just as simple: to lead a gentler & slower existence, centered around our home & garden. Where are hands are kept busy (and often dirty) pulling this or that from our veggie garden, tending to chickens and possibly even sheep. I also hope to finally plunge in and start peddling some of my hand made wares. I look forward to telling you more about that in a future post. Until then, wishing you a very happy new year 2018 and most of all,

Welcome (back) here.

❤️

Voilà bien longtemps depuis ma dernière balade par ici. En neuf mois, il s’en est tricoté de la vie. Le temps passe tellement vite, au côté de mon petit hommes. Et puis il y a eu les turbulences de la vie (qui parfois s’apparentaient à des Tsunamis) nous ont secoué dans tous les sens et nous ont laissés bien fatigués. Mais avec l’amour, l’espoir et la laine, on a réussi à tenir le coup. 2017 a aussi été une année de grand changement pour nous, notamment avec notre départ inattendu des Pyrénées à la fin d’été. Depuis octobre, nous habitons une petite maison, nichée dans les collines verdoyantes du centre Finistère. C’est un endroit où la pluie et le vent sont fréquent, et où la faune sauvage est aussi abondante à l’intérieur qu’à l’extérieur: le hululement de la chouette hibou nous berce presque toutes les nuits…ainsi que les petits bruits des bals nocturnes de la famille de souris qui habite dans nos murs.

Même si il nous reste encore beaucoup de cartons à défaire, un nouveau rythme lent et doux commence à s’installer. On préfère être dehors autant que possible, dans notre nouveau jardin ainsi que dans la campagne qui nous entoure. Pour les prochains mois, cette petite maison sera notre lieu de vie. Nous sommes venus simplement pour nous remettre d’une année difficile, et pour être plus proche de nos familles. Notre intention pour les prochains mois ici est de mener une existence douce: simplement dit, de cultiver notre jardin. Il y aura des choux et betteraves mais aussi quelques poules, et peut être même quelques brebis. Et pour revenir à nos moutons, j’ai aussi envie de poursuivre un projet professionnel qui me tient à cœur depuis maintenant presque trois ans. Mon projet consiste à m’installer en tant qu’artisane et de travailler autour de ce matériau incroyable qu’est la laine. Je vous en dirai plus dans un prochain billet, mais en attendant, je vous souhaite une très belle année 2018 et surtout,

(re-) bienvenue ici.

when the words won’t come

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It has been a pretty long while since I have written here.

Twenty months into this journey of motherhood, there is so much I want to write about. Little stories from our daily life. Reflections on this new (and still at times overwhelming) adventure that is motherhood. My highs and lows as I find my creativity returning, little by little.

And yet. Every time I come back to this place, I open the page in the expectation that the words will appear…then they don’t. I had always taken it for granted that word craft was like breathing for me, something I didn’t really think about and that didn’t require much effort. Like knitting. Then I became a mama. And both these parts of my life suddenly became incredibly arduous. Which has been such a shock. I had anticipated motherhood would bring about big changes in my life. But I just could not have imagined that I would struggle so profoundly to make it to the end of a row. Nor to find the words.

Just as knitting has been a common thread stretching down the years from childhood to adulthood, so too my previous life was bound inexorably to language. I worked for a number of years as a freelance translator and peripatetic language teacher, and before that I spent six years as an undergraduate unravelling the mysteries of the French language. So to find myself so tongue tied has been hard to say the least.

It would be so easy to give up on this little space. To decide that instead of leaving it here lingering and open to change, I will just close the shutters & lock the door. To make a clean break of it. But that would be a bit like me deciding this time last year to gather up my yarns & knitting paraphernalia and donate them to the local charity shop because I was struggling to pick up my needles. And that would have been a real shame. So instead, I shall just leave a little window ajar, in the hope that if I keep looking for the words and making space for them, they will eventually return to me.

If I’m daring to hit the publish button tonight, it’s because I felt so heartened to read Ruth’s words a few days ago. Hers is a blog that I come back to time and time again, and to read her own thoughts on her own journal keeping made me feel so encouraged. Whilst I find the excitement & buzz of other online gathering spaces to be a source of stimulation & inspiration, I must admit that I am particularly fond of those smaller, quieter and more meaningful places of connection and sharing that can still be found in blogs. Over there it often feels like being at a very crowded, very noisy party, albeit one filled with very kind & lovely folk. There is an energy and a creativity to be found there in the thronging crowd, but sometimes I can find it all a little overwhelming and exhausting. However visiting a favourite blog feels more like being invited round a dear friend’s house for a cup or tea and a knit. A moment to share some meaningful conversations about life & knitting whilst we quietly work on our respective projects. Ruth’s blog is just one such lovely place, here are some other friends & favourites I continue to visit.

So whilst I cannot tell you when I shall next drop by here, nor where or how I intend to take this journal, consider it a renewal of my intention to keep that little window open. And to keep showing up for the words.